An IT welcome to country

Weblog 4.5

NativeWeb is an international not-for profit organisation that aims to use technology to disseminate information from and about indigenous people and nations, foster communication, conduct research and provide resources to support indigenous people’s use of technology. Their purpose “is not to ‘preserve’, in museum fashion, some vestige of the past, but to foster communication among peoples engaged in the present and looking toward a sustainable future for those yet unborn.”

Resources on their site cover 32 geographic regions and there were 36 listings for Australia. As with many internet resources, some links were no longer active, but one that i showcase here is Burarra Gathering. This is a flash animation that takes the user to visit the Burarra people on their own land. The program was developed with the Burarra elders and is bilingual. A great interactive introduction to Burarra country and people!

November 23, 2012   No Comments

Touch screen technology for health behaviour change

weblog 4.4

Travers et al (2007) describe the use of touch screen kiosks (with audio feedback) delivering health promotion information to Aboriginal communities. Two modules were developed, one on alcohol use Grog Story and one on sexual health Put it On.

Clarification of the health messages was identified with experts in the field. Community elders were then involved to provide an understanding of social and cultural constraints including language use, explicitness etc. They then worked with youth representatives in the local communities to contextualise the messages. The community and youth representatives were involved in the workshops that developed the narratives. Finally the filming used Indigenous actors to ‘mentor’ local Indigenous people recruited locally. There was a formal community launch of the kiosk.

Evaluation of the  project identified positive impacts on self esteem for individuals who had been ‘engaged in creating their own representations’. There was high level of community engagement in development and then use of the kiosk content. It was not possible however, to identify quantitative evidence of changes to health outcomes (health literacy or behaviour change).

They concluded that this technology was ideal for addressing the ‘triple divide’’ of inequality in health, education and digital engagement.

Travers H, Hunter E, Gibson J, Campion J. (2007) Pride and performance: Innovative multimedia in the service of behavioural health change in remote Indigenous settings.  Proc 13th Intl Conference on Virtual Systems and Multimedia. VSMM 2007, Brisbane, Australia

November 23, 2012   No Comments

Digital Songlines Game

Weblog 4.3

The Digital Songlines (DSL) project was a digital storytelling project, using a 3D gaming engine. The project  funded by the Australasian Cooperative Research centre for Interaction Design. Unfortunately funding ceased some time after 2007 and it was difficult to find other projects.

Leavy et al (2007) in their article Evaluating the Digital Songlines Game Engine for Australian Indigenous storytelling outline the project. The aim was to use quality gaming to allow users to experience Indigenous virtual heritage in high fidelity simulation with culturally appropriate tools. They describe the importance of Aboriginal collaboration through each project and outline a protocol to address IP and copyright issues that is entirely community focused and driven. The depiction of ‘country’ in each project was not just a backdrop for the game but was the largest ‘artefact’. ‘Country’ is both a receptacle and it actively participates in the telling of the story. (p.164)

The feedback about the game varied with age of participants. The younger participants used to commercial games were either disappointed that it wasn’t the same, or delighted because it was! Older participants appreciated the language, tradition and stories being ‘brought to life’.

Users and developers saw it as a way technology can assist in the empowering of cultural identity.

YouTube example of a Digital songline project

November 23, 2012   No Comments

Residential schools – Stolen Generation

Weblog 4.1

The material on residential schooling and its impacts has many parallels to Australian Aboriginal (and some Torres Strait islander) peoples’ experiences in Australia. In Australia from the late 1800s to the 1970s, children were removed from their families and either placed in institutions or adopted by non-indigenous families. This is called the Stolen Generation.

The Australian public were encouraged to believe that Aboriginal children were at risk in their communities and were disadvantaged, so this forced removal would provide them with better education, a more loving family and more civilised upbringing. The reality was that it was a governmental attempt to assimilate. Even the teaching opportunities were limited and the idea was to create a serving class. Many children with an Aboriginal mother and Anglo-saxon father were specifically targeted.

After Heather’s talk (not being a school teacher) I explored what the Australian teaching curriculum was about the Stolen Generation. This lead me to the:

  • amazing resource Scootle that provides resources and teaching plans.

What I couldn’t find was any parallels of Heather’s resource for Indigenous children for teaching.

November 17, 2012   1 Comment

Indigenous health education – music and technology

Weblog 3.5

In another weblog I looked at children’s health education, music and technology. In this weblog I feature a website developed by a remote community controlled health service – Nganampa Health Council.

UPK (Uwankara Palyanku Kanyintjaku) means everybody creating holding and caring for the future. It is a health promotion strategy for the Anangu (people) of the Anangu Pitantjatjajara Yankunytjatjara Lands in north-west South Australia.

The Nganampa Health Council saw the power of music to bring awareness to health issues affecting the people who live in the remote communities.

The UPK5 website is well presented, clearly demonstrates relationship with the land, and highlights the musicians and music from their fifth album released in 2011.

The uniqueness of the health education music/technology interface:

  • the songs relate to health issues and “reflect that caring for ones children, commitment to family and vigilance (are) the best weapons”
  • all musicians are Aboriginal
  • both established and up and coming musicians are involved
  • songs are sung in the Anangu language
  • each album has been recorded at different remote sites on the Anangu land with a mobile state of the art production and recording studio
  • the music is the commonest music heard through the APY Lands.

More recently UPK5 tracks are also featured on a national radio station TripleJ.

November 3, 2012   No Comments

Health education for children – music and technology delivery

Weblog 3.4

Exploring the use of technology to deliver Indigenous health education there are two resources I wanted to focus on in this weblog. Both combined music and technology and one also included animation.
Each resource highlights different accessibility issues. One had national coverage through its use on radio and TV, and international access through YouTube (however it has had only just over 2,100 views). The other is a DVD resource costing $30 which requires schools or medical practices and services to purchase it.
Both songs were written by Indigenous Aboriginals.

1.  Eyes – YouTube video
Sight For All launched the music video Eyes in September 2011 which highlights the problem of eye disease – trachoma and diabetes – among Australian Aboriginal people.  Written and performed by Indigenous hip-hop artist Colin Darcy (a.k.a. Caper), the video features Aboriginal Australian Football League players from the Adelaide Crows and Port Power.

2. The Snot song
This is a DVD resource that has a song and animation to encourage BBC (Breathe, Blow, Cough) to prevent otitis media (ear infection). It is designed for children aged 0-8 years.
A ‘teaser’ of the animated song –  taken from

November 3, 2012   No Comments

Indigenous Health education online

Weblog 3.3

The Indigenous HealthInfoNet is a website that “aims to inform practice and policy in Indigenous health by making research and other knowledge readily accessible.” In this way it makes a contribution to ‘closing the gap’ in Indigenous health. It is developed and maintained by an academic unit of Edith Cowan University (ECU) .

They see themselves as involved in ‘translational research’ a term which is emerging as a integrative description of the processes of translating knowledge into practice and policy (knowledge into action) and based on the Canadian concept of knowledge translation.

The material covers

  • around 30 health and health-related topics of relevance to Indigenous health;
  • eight population groups (such as women, infants and children, and offenders); and
  • Indigenous health by states and territories.

While much of the website is dedicated to government, health professional resources the website has list of health promotion resources according to topic accessible to the community.  I looked at the health promotion resources listed for three topics – diabetes, cardiovascular disease and ear health. Most resources were written resources and use of technology was in the minority. As with most internet resources a proportion of the web links were no longer accessible.

Diabetes (see diagram) as an example had 71 resources listed, of which 16 (22%) were audiovisual, 2 (3%) were designated as electronic source (but did not have active links)  and 1 (1%) was an online multimedia. The remainder were booklets, fact sheets, flipcharts, posters and resource packages. Other topic resources also included comics.

Technology versus print

November 3, 2012   No Comments

Aboriginal Pedagogies

Weblog 3.1

The conclusion of module three stated “… indigenous principles could be applied in mainstream and dominant educational settings to produce a more progressive and sustainable future for schools and communities. Indigenous education is not simply for Indigenous peoples.”

I found an Australian article arguing just this – that the Indigenous way of teaching can be a deep learning for all learners.

Tyson Yunkaporta, an Aboriginal Education Consultant, undertook a research project Aboriginal Pedagogies at the Cultural Interface that asked two questions:

1. How can teachers engage with Aboriginal knowledge?

Similar to aspects of Indigenous learning outlined by Marker (2011) and Barhardt and Kawagley (2005), Yunkaporta has developed an 8ways Aboriginal Pedagogical Framework comprising story telling, learning maps, non-verbal, symbols and images, land links, non-linear, deconstruct/reconstruct and community links, which all interact in multiple ways. You can view the diagramatic representation of the framework on the site.

He argues, in the Draft Report that there is a common-ground phenomenon when higher order knowledge from Indigenous systems is brought alongside similar western systems. p20 of the report  has this diagrammatically as a ‘Boomerang Matrix of Cultural Interface Knowledge’.

Yunkaporta states that “non-Aboriginality (is) not found to be a barrier to engaging with Aboriginal knowledge. …… Aboriginality in itself does not provide some kind of magic ticket for engaging with Aboriginal knowledge. Any person, regardless of their background, must have a sophisticated awareness of their own identity and must be engaging in local knowledge protocols in order to come to Aboriginal knowledge with integrity.” p27

2. How can teachers use Aboriginal knowledge authentically and productively in schools?

Yunkaporta’s solution lies in the application of Aboriginal processes rather than Indigenised content (which he outlines in depth in the second half of his report).



Barnhardt, R., & Kawagley,  A. O., “Indigenous Knowledge Sytems and Alaskan Native ways of Knowing” Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 36(1), 2005, 8-23.

Marker M. Teaching History form an Indigenous perspective. Four winding paths up the mountain.

Yunkaporta, T. (2009) Aboriginal Pedagogies at the Cultural Interface draft report

October 31, 2012   No Comments

Indigenous Health and technology

Weblog #5

As part of my assignment I plan to look at patient education delivered by technology for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. To date I have found many websites but the vast majority are directed at health professionals and not the patients themselves. Also many initiatives do not use technology, but rather focus on visiting communities in buses, or creating festival days, Men’s sheds etc.

Beyondblue is a website that focuses on mental health disorders and provides information for patients and health professionals. It has an Indigenous section, but the use of technology for health is limited to the depression Yarns DVD – The Depression Yarns: Tackling Depression, Anxiety and Related Disorders in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities.

The DVD was developed for use by Indigenous Mental Health Workers and service providers working with Aboriginal people. The DVD focuses on postnatal depression and depression in men. It includes two mini-dramas on the topics, as well as interviews with:

  • Project Leader Mibbinbah Men’s Spaces, Jack Bulman
  • Indigenous ex-Rugby League player Nathan Blacklock who has experienced depression
  • Darwin (NT) based social worker, Josephine Battaglini.
  • beyondblue Board Director and Clinical Advisor, Associate Professor Michael Baigent

October 14, 2012   No Comments

Indigenous health and technology – early childhood

Weblog #4

Waabiny Time is a television series on pay TV (and also on DVD) that is based on the learning approaches of Sesame Street and Play School.

Waabiny Time is the first indigenous language program made for an early childhood audience from ages 3 to 6 and focuses on Noongar language acquisition. The Noongar people’s land includes Perth, an area to the north, and the whole south west corner of Western Australia.

Waabiny Time also aims to encourage pride and participation in Noongar culture, merging traditional and contemporary Noongar culture. It also integrates other messages including health messages.

As described by Smith, Burke and Ward 200, the mix of contemporary and traditional demonstrates the dynamic and flexible nature of Aboriginal people and challenges the stereotype that Indigenous people “live in the past”. It also parallels Zimmerman, Zimmerman and Bruguier’s 2000 use of technology to restore language but within a different context.

Both presenters of the show are Noongar, but the script, directing and production has been undertaken by non-Indigenous people.

One unintended outcome of the production of Waabiny Time is that non Indigenous children at an early are also engaged by the program. They learn Noongar language and about Noongar culture from Noongar people.

Link to Waabinny Time website

Short clips from Waabinny Time


As an aside – an interesting review on Using television to improve learning opportunities for Indigenous children. Australian Council for Educational Research 2010



Smith C, Burke H and Ward GK. Chapter 1 in Indigenous Cultures in an INterconnected World. “Globalisation and Indigenous Cultures: Threat or Empowerment.”

Zimmerman KJ,  Zimmerman KP and Bruguier LR Chapter 4 in Indigenous Cultures in an Interconnected World, “Cyberspace Smoke Signals: New Technologies and Native American Ethnicity.”

October 14, 2012   No Comments